For some forty chapters we see Job sorting, venting, and lamenting his dire circumstances before the Lord. But, one thing God establishes for us from the beginning is this:
"In all this, Job did not sin by charging God with wrongdoing." Whew! I want that to be said of me when the annals of history are reviewed. That I never held God to account for some wrong that happened in my life. So how did Job manage to maintain his "integrity" as his wife put it while sorting out the messiness of anger and grief with God. I believe it is because to men Job defended God, but when he was in anguish - he sought out the Lord and made his complaint known only to God. Was Job putting on a brave face or was his heart sincerely holding onto something that he believed and hoped to be true in spite of all the evidence to the contrary? In my reading of Job, I found that he held onto what he believed to be true of God, what he hoped for... And, he knew that if he questioned God, God would answer him.
And how is it that we can be sure that all this wrestling it out with God is okay? In Job 42, light dawns in Job's life. His suffering is about to end as Job admits that nothing and no one can stop the plans of God. Read on and see what God did in response to Job's acknowledgment:
"1 Then Job replied to the LORD :
2 'I know that you can do all things;
no plan of yours can be thwarted.
3 You asked, 'Who is this that obscures
my counsel without knowledge?'
Surely I spoke of things I did not understand,
things too wonderful for me to know.
4 'You said, 'Listen now, and I will speak;
I will question you, and you shall answer me.'
5 My ears had heard of you
but now my eyes have seen you.
6 Therefore I despise myself
and repent in dust and ashes.'
10 After Job had prayed for his friends, the LORD made him prosperous again and gave him twice as much as he had before. 11 All his brothers and sisters and everyone who had known him before came and ate with him in his house. They comforted and consoled him over all the trouble the LORD had brought upon him, and each one gave him a piece of silver and a gold ring. 12 The LORD blessed the latter part of Job's life more than the first." ~ Job 42: 1-6, 10-12 (NIV)
Job's plight forced him to come face-to-face with the truth about his heart, his beliefs and ultimately his God. When Job realized that his anguish had caused him to doubt God - Job repented and confessed the truth before the Lord. And if Job had stopped there, perhaps that would have been enough. Yet, he fulfilled the glory of his revelation by also praying for those who had not only accused him of being responsible for the tragedy taht had befallen his family, but they had also prompted the further questioning of God's judgment in those sovereign acts.
Job's suffering accomplished many things, but for Job it established that his initial response was correct. That the Lord may indeed give and He may also take away, but in all things His name is to BE PRAISED. By putting on this attitude of praise in his deep anguish, Job established a hopeful pattern that would be repeated throughout his discourse with God. The identification with a God who is inately good and true. By trusting God even with the messy, angry feeling he suffered in the wake of his loss, Job proved God faithful and true to His Word. God is a God who keeps His promises. He promises that no matter what He works all things for our good and His glory, that He can take what Satan intends for evil and turn it to good, that He always has a plan that prospers us and gives us a future and a hope, and that He will never leave nor forsake us no matter how bad it gets.
I want to conclude by reminding you of the story of Jacob in Genesis 32. Jacob was running from many things in his life. Not the least of these things was the deception that had pit him an enemy against his own brother. However, God caught up with Jacob one night and wrestled with Jacob throughout that night even injuring him. When God had enough of the struggle and was about to take His leave, Jacob caught a hold of Him and said, "I will not let you go until you bless me."
In spite of his past failures, in spite of the agonizing pain of the struggle, Jacob was not willing to give up. He knew that God could bless Him, change the outcome and deliver the victory and He was not leaving without it. God indeed blessed Jacob. He left that injury that Jacob suffered in the struggle to remind him of the reason for the pain. But, he gave Jacob a new identity, a better heritage and an eternal purpose to fulfill that far outweighed anything that Jacob had faced in his past. Israel's destiny was to make a name for God - and they did... His name is Jesus and He provided redemption and salvation from this fallen existence for us all.
In my own life, I have found this passage from James to be so true. When we allow suffering to have its perfect work in our lives. When we allow God to deal with our anger, our anguish and even out pain it builds in us a complete, sure and tested faith that brings us to maturity in Christ. When we suffer and face those sufferings as Christ did - "for the joy set before us" - we fellowship with Him in those bitter moments. That prepares us for the great joy that we have in our salvation, His promises of a better inheritance and the promises of eternity with Him. Suffering - even the kind that makes us angry with God - can produce a faith that lacks nothing if we will work it out with God.
Sorting out our anger with God is honest, it is necessary and it allows God to tend to our hurts and our wounds in ways that nothing on this earth will ever accomplish. God administers healing to those wounded, angry places within us so that the Holy Spirit can do its work in our lives. Trusting God with even the ugliest of our feelings toward Him opens our lives up for not only reconciliation, but also peace, joy, and hope that overflows into and out of our lives.
The sovereign goodness of God means that He can be trusted to act mercifully with us - even if we are angry with Him. His love and His nature will not allow Him to hold His anger against us if we confess it before Him in truth and with a heart that desires to be reconciled to Him in spite of our pain. He is good, His mercy endures forever... He is ever worthy of our praise.